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Georgia Budget Proposal Would Increase Medicaid

Armen Hareyan's picture

Carie Summers, CFO of the Georgia Department of Community Health,last week discussed a budget proposal being considered by thedepartment that would increase reimbursements for physicians andhospitals treating Medicaid and PeachCare beneficiaries, the Florida Times-Unionreports. PeachCare is Georgia's version of SCHIP. According to Summers,the proposal would reimburse hospitals in the state's trauma carenetwork at a higher rate than facilities that are not part of thenetwork.

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The Times-Union reports that Medicaidand PeachCare reimbursement rates "for years" have been below theactual costs of providing services. Under the proposal, the state wouldprovide trauma care hospitals and physicians with an additional $33.6million, and overall funding would increase by $87.7 million afterfederal matching funds are included.

Although the new paymentrates still would be below the cost of treating Medicaid and PeachCarebeneficiaries, the increases would be helpful, according to Joe Parker,president of the Georgia Hospital Association.Parker added that hospitals are "encouraged" by the proposal, but henoted that the association had not seen details of the plan. He said,"It probably will not be enough, but it's something to build on."

Some lawmakers are concerned that funding for the proposal would come from slower Medicaid spending growth last year, the Times-Unionreports. Medicaid spending increased by 0.6% in 2006, which will freethe 2% budget growth allowed by Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) to be used forother purposes. Linda Lowe, a consumer health advocate, said the slowergrowth was a result of new, stricter enrollment requirements thatrequire Medicaid beneficiaries to provide proof of citizenship. Lowesaid the rule has led to an increase in "the number of uninsuredpeople, particularly children" (Larrabee, Florida Times-Union, 8/10).

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